Wednesday, January 17, 2018
I was captured by the idea from A.J. Jacobs The Year of Living Biblically, where he lived rules from the Bible and learned a lot doing so. But rather than using a book I have little interest in modeling my life after, why not use one that I am constantly revisiting anyway.
NN Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes is a book of aphorisms from a modern author, who seems to inhabit a world very different from my own. And that is why I find it incredible that is aphorisms ring so true to me and continually call my attention. I imagine we have very few shared experiences, but it feels as though his aphorisms talk, specifically, to my experiences.
I don’t know, maybe it is not him, but rather the power of aphorisms generally. Since they are short and lack a clear context, maybe you helplessly map them onto your imagination and therefore they seem very real to you.
Whatever it is, they all feel real, true, and important to me while reading them. But soon puting the book down, they fade into the background and real life begins again.
I like to think that I am humble enough to realize that I way I live my life is probably not the most optimal (both for myself and those I care about). But I also subscribe to the hippie notion that you need to find your own way in life rather than modeling yourself after a role model. This seems to be a paradox: admitting there are possible internal universes better than your own, while also believing that your universe can only be at its greatest by following your unique path.
Thankfully this paradox is no match for Bruce Lee, “Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own”, promotes growth while avoiding the trap of living your life through someone else's narrative.
But to see what is worth absorbing, what is to be discarded, and what is my own, an experiment is in order: approach life through the aphorisms of NN Taleb for a few months.
To be clear, my goal over the next three point five months is to continue to live my life, full of its contents, beautiful people, and absurdities. But, all the while, live it through a lens - new and by no means my own.
I have gone through The Bed of Procrustes and selected aphorisms that either could be followed strictly or that would promote me seeing and acting in the world through his eyes.